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Discussion in 'Healthcare/Insurance/Govt Healthcare' started by Wiseacre, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Wiseacre
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    Wiseacre Retired USAF Chief Supporting Member

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    The following is from a newsletter I get John Mauldin's 'Outside The Box' email, it comes a couple times a week and is usually an investment guide from an expert in some aspect of the stock market or the economy. This one is awfully good news, should make your day. It's kinda long, so I truncated it before it gets into various new cancer treatments that may eradicate many if not all cancers altogether. Now won't that day be one to celebrate.

    If you want to read the entire thing, send me an email address so I can pass it on.


    The End of Cancer as a Deadly Threat
    Last week, an announcement was made by BioTime Inc. that could quickly cut the cost of cancer in half, saving in excess of $100 billion annually. This breakthrough is not a cancer treatment. It is a revolutionary diagnostic technology.
    To understand why it is so important, we need to understand that cancer isn't a single disease at all. The medical term is "malignant neoplasm," which encompasses any condition of uncontrolled cell growth. There are hundreds if not thousands of different types of malignant neoplasms, and many have almost nothing in common with any of the others.
    This has made cancer diagnostics very inefficient, though it is a multi-billion-dollar industry. A test for prostate cancer, for example, won't detect breast cancer. Even current breast cancer tests don't detect all breast cancers.
    If all the existing diagnostics were used to test one individual for early-stage cancers, it would cost many tens of thousands of dollars – perhaps more. If all people were checked for all cancers on a regular basis using existing diagnostics, it would bankrupt our entire healthcare system.
    To make matters even worse, many diagnostics are notoriously inaccurate. Some miss as many as half of cancers but return extremely high false positives that have their own costs. False-positive PSA (prostate-specific antigen) tests, for example, generate unnecessary biopsies, surgery, impotence, incontinence, and other problems. Some diagnostic procedures, I might add, are also extremely unpleasant.
    As a result, most people are tested for cancers only when there is reason to believe they may have the disease. Most diagnostics are used, therefore, to gain information about existing and problematic cancers, not to detect them before they become a problem.
    As a result, many cancers are not found until they are sadly well-established and aggressive. It is an oft-repeated truism in oncology that early detection translates into far more successful treatment. Early detection also dramatically reduces the costs of therapy.
    What we need, obviously, is a simple blood test that would, with high accuracy, find cancers in their early stages. Combined with revolutionary new cancer therapies that are just around the corner, we would see the end of most catastrophic cancers. Even with existing therapies, the impact on lives and healthcare budgets would be enormous.
    Over the last few years, I've written often about BioTime's ACTCellerate program, one of the most important projects in contemporary science. Dr. Michael West and BioTime scientists are decoding and cataloging the genetic changes that occur in human cells as they progress from their original embryonic state.
    To accomplish this monumental task, BioTime scientists rely on large-scale genomic analysis and bioinformatic analysis of the data, using increasingly powerful computers. Thus far, BioTime scientists have mapped over 40,000 gene sequences expressed in different cell types.
    This information will allow BioTime to turn a few of your blood cells into induced pluripotent cells, and then into any type of cell you need. Those cells will be completely rejuvenated and functionally young. Already, BioTime's ReCyte Group is on track to reverse age-related cardiovascular and immune-system conditions.
    However, the knowledge and tools that the company has created have far more uses than hacking cellular codes. BioTime used the same tools to examine hundreds of adult cell types, both normal and cancerous. In the process, they discovered that many genes being activated in cancers had never before been associated with malignant neoplasms.
    Genes express proteins that can be easily detected. (A simple consumer version of a protein detector, by the way, is the home pregnancy test.) And having identified the genes activated by the most-common cancers, it was a relatively simple process for BioTime to design a blood test for the proteins expressed by those genes.
    This is off-the-shelf technology. Many medical device companies manufacture diagnostic devices that identify proteins in blood. But early in-house tests found that BioTime's prototype was more accurate in terms of identifying cancer-free individuals than is commonly observed in PSA cancer tests. This discovery convinced the company to prioritize development of the technology.
    BioTime's commercial cancer-detection device will probably be priced no higher than existing diagnostics that test for only one type of cancer. I expect the device will detect a wide range of cancer types, including cancers of the breast, lung, bladder, uterus, stomach, and colon, as well as others.
    My guess, looking at wholesale prices for similar laboratory devices, is that the cost in materials for testing an individual for a broad spectrum of the most-common cancers will eventually be no more than $15. It is impossible to predict the size of the market for a simple broad-spectrum cancer detection test, because no such diagnostic exists; but the potential is huge.
     
  2. Wiseacre
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    Wiseacre Retired USAF Chief Supporting Member

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    Bumped this in hopes some will see the advances in cancer detection that really could lead to fewer deaths and a lot less cost.
     

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